Attached are some stray images I took
when in the San Juans and HD mountains in early July. The first
image shows Laura Stransky of the Forest Service standing near an
old Ponderosa near the Piedra River. Without someone in a photo for
perspective, it is difficult to assess the scale of the forest. In
most of the areas I visited in the San Juans that had mature pines,
ponderosas exceeding 100 feet were as common as lice on a mountain
man. However, at about 120 feet, their numbers drop dramatically. A
few pines make it to above 130, and a very few above 140. We only
encountered one area with 150-footers. I expect they are fairly rare
and that agrees with the Forest Service's experience.
Our top pine in the Piedra River drainage tops out at
148.5 feet in height. Girths of the largest pines make it to about
10 feet. I expect that if one were to travel on foot a few miles
farther up the Piedra River, surprises would be encountered. In
fact, there might be some real surprises. It is a pretty wet area.
To the south of U.S. 160, the HDs rise as a
long stretch of low mountains, comparatively speaking. However, they
exude a kind of mystery that calls to some of us. The HDs are drier
than the San Juans, so average tree size is not great, at least what
I've seen so far Yet I've been told that the HDs hold some big tree
surprises. Finding them will be a 2010 objective. Image #2 shows a
ridge side on the HDs.
The third image is of a fairly typical forest scene in
the HDs. Girths of conspicuous pines run from 7 to to at most 9
feet. Heights to between 100 and 115. Doug firs are comparable. The
total acreage of old growth is being determined,by the Forest
Service. It won't break any records, but still may be considerable
by most eastern standards.